University of Portsmouth scientists discover fossilised remains of fourth species of flying reptile

SCIENTISTS from the city’s university have discovered a fourth species of ancient flying reptile which soared above the skies of Africa more than 66 million years ago.

By Neil Fatkin
Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 5:48 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 12:11 pm
Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have discovered a fourth species of ancient flying reptile. The creature has been named Afrotapejara Zouhrii.
Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have discovered a fourth species of ancient flying reptile. The creature has been named Afrotapejara Zouhrii.

The discovery, which was made by University of Portsmouth palaeobiologists, comes hot on the heels of last week’s revelation that a third pterosaur had been uncovered in Morocco.

The new species belongs to a group of pterosaurs called tapejarids from the Cretaceous Period, which spanned between 145 million and 66 million years ago. Tapejarids were small to medium-sized pterosaurs with wingspans as wide as four metres, most of which had large, broad crests sweeping up from the front of the skull.

Leading the team was professor David Martill from the University’s School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences,

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Professor Martill said: ‘The study of Moroccan material shows that we are still far from having found all the paleontological treasures of North Africa. Even fragmentary fossils, like the jaw piece of the new pterosaur, can give us important information about the biodiversity of the past.’

PhD student, Roy Smith, added: ‘I feel very privileged to be part of such an exciting discovery. Working in the Sahara was a life-changing experience and discovering a new species of pterosaur is the icing on the cake.’

The new pterosaur has been named Afrotapejara Zouhrii to honour the Moroccan palaeontologist, professor Samir Zouhri.

Pterosaurs ranged in size from as large as a fighter jet to as small as a model aeroplane.They are well known in Brazil and China with specimens also having been discovered in Europe but this is the first time the flying reptiles have been found in Africa.

The main difference from the three previously discovered creatures is that this species had no teeth.

The fossilised remains are now part of the collections of the Faculty of Sciences at Casablanca Hassan II University.

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